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A Hope in the Unseen

As I began reading Ron Suskind's (19) A Hope in the Unseen, I was initially convinced that I would be ultimately unimpressed by the story -- which appeared to be about a young, relatively poor, African-American inner city male trying to move out of poverty and focused on gaining admission to MIT. I gradually came to the realization, however, that while Suskind was telling precisely this story, he was making a larger point: all of us, regardless of our socioeconomic status, race or ethnicity, place of birth or residence, and family composition, must have faith in some higher authority or power, some belief that there is a divine plan for mankind and that we are able to participate in that plan.

As we are introduced to the protagonist's mother, Barbara, we are told by Suskind (10) that she is a woman who has changed dramatically after the birth of her child: "Barbara is a churchwoman now." Having been a young woman who wore a "blonde wig, leather miniskirt, white knee-high boots" and possessed of a "taste for malt liquor" (Suskind, 10), Barbara has become a quiet, religious woman whose main concerns are providing for her son, Cedric, and attending the church that holds center stage in her life. She has been transformed by maternity into a mature if somewhat repressed woman who has dedicated herself to ensuring that her exceptionally bright son remains sufficiently motivated to succeed academically.

That this will be difficult is underscored early in the book when Cedric (3 -- 6) encounters other African-America students who consider him to be little more than a "nerd." In fact, they seem to believe that in taking school and learning seriously, he has somehow betrayed them; alternatively, he may be trying to "act white" or to exhibit his superiority over them. Cedric's mother tells him early on that "People will see that you're special" (11). The fact is that Cedric is special, but this "specialness" is not readily appreciate...

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A Hope in the Unseen. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 16:25, December 07, 2021, from